MAKING HER POINT

Crystal Ketterman of the “Republicans” discusses welfare in the U.S. while teammate Jason O’Daniel takes notes during a debate between students at City Hall on Oct. 9. See Debate Coverage for story and more photos. Andrew Cremata

Cline declared ‘unqualified’ candidate
Council seat vacant, second place Bounds wants state opinion before mayor appoints

By JEFF BRADY
Beth Cline, the apparent winner on Oct. 7 of the two-year City Council seat, was ruled unqualified just prior to election certification two days later, and the seat was declared vacant by the Skagway City Council.
Mayor Tim Bourcy is expected to present a name for appointment at the next council meeting on Nov. 6, but Bert Bounds, who finished a distant second to Cline, thinks the city should have a ruling from the state before it makes the next move. The state thus far is deferring to the city’s decision.
No one filed for the two-year seat in time to be on the ballot, but Cline mounted a highly visible write-in campaign with posters, a newspaper ad, and a boxholder postcard.
As a declared write-in candidate, Cline was required to file a financial disclosure report – basically a state-required form declaring where a public official derives income – by the election.
In an interview by phone from Seattle earlier this week, Cline said she was thankful for the support of more than 150 voters, but admitted making a mistake and apologized to anyone who might be upset with her.
“I apologize,” she said. “I thought I had read all the information. I made a mistake.”
Cline said she was initially given the papers by Councilmember Mike Korsmo but thought she had 30 days from the election to submit them. She said she missed this section in the Alaska Public Offices Commission handbook: “A public statement by an individual not appearing on the ballot that he/she will seek elective office constitutes a declaration of candidacy and a Public Official Financial Disclosure Statement must be filed with the Municipal clerk.”
All candidates on the ballot had papers on file.
Skagway is not one of the cities under 1,000 where voters have voted to be exempt from this law, said City Clerk Marj Harris. As a small city, it is exempt from the law requiring candidates to file separate campaign finance reports.
On Sept. 26, after reading Cline’s write-in candidate profile in The Skagway News election forum, Harris mailed Cline the papers and reminded her to get them in. But Cline, the director of passenger operations for the WP&YR, said she left town on Sept. 25 for a break after the final cruise ship visit and had not seen the second set of papers. She was due back in town around the middle of this week after attending the state tourism conference.
When the final numbers were in, Cline received 154 votes, and, among those who had not declared, Bounds had 37 and there were 42 other write-in votes.
Municipalities are given leeway in state statutes regarding how they handle local elections. Municipal codes can be stricter, such as the Skagway law that requires the election be certified on the Thursday after the election. It also states that any protest must occur before that certification.
On Oct. 9, Harris presented a memo to the council on the election, citing the “inconsistency” about the two-year seat winner not filing the financial disclosure statement.
According to the minutes of the meeting, City Manager Bob Ward said the city attorney advised that “the clearest way to resolve this situation is to certify the election results as shown on the certification and declare that there are no valid write-in candidates for the 2-year Council Seat (and) declare the seat vacant and appoint a person to fill that seat to the next regular election in October 2004.”
The council members concurred with this opinion and ultimately voted to certify the results with the exception of the two-year seat, declaring it vacant.
During the meeting and before certification, Harris said she turned to the audience and said, “Now is the time to speak if you wish to say anything,” and no one did.
Bounds was in the audience and said he was as surprised as the council members who were confronted that night with the results. But he did not protest at the time.
The next day Bounds alerted the newspaper to the decision, and wondered if he should have been declared the winner or at least be eligible for a runoff. He also called the Alaska Public Offices Commission, and then on Oct. 14 asked the city in a letter to hold a runoff election between “the top lawful write-in candidates.” But he later admitted that he misread city code, which exempts Skagway from the state law requiring a runoff if no candidate receives 40 percent of the vote. Skagway adopted that provision in 1986 to save the cost of holding special elections.
Harris explained this in a letter to Bounds later that same day and also quoted other parts of city code dealing with vacancies, runoffs (only held here if there is a tie), and how to contest an election. City code states elections must be contested by a candidate or 10 registered voters before or at the time of certification. State law allows contests in superior court up to 10 days after certification.
In her Oct. 14 letter, Harris also wrote about Bounds’ Oct. 10 conversation with Chris Ellington of APOC, in which he stated that “you knew you were being written in as a candidate for the 2-year Council seat on October 7th Election Day. That was the time pursuant to State law to have filed your Financial Disclosure Statement if you wished to run as a write-in candidate.” Harris added that Bounds now fell under the same scenario as Cline and was “not a valid candidate.”
Reached at APOC, Ellington confirmed the conversation and said “somebody told (Bounds) he was written in, so on the morning of the 8th he should have put in the paperwork.”
Bounds said he figured Cline had been elected since no one knew she was disqualified until the meeting on the 9th, and reiterated that he was never a candidate. He said he told Councilmember J. Frey on election day that someone had told him that he had written Bounds in for mayor, not the two-year seat.
“If they wrote me in, it’s not my fault,” Bounds said on Oct. 15. “I’m now to the point where I might pursue it. I don’t like the smell of it.”
A lengthy follow-up letter from Bounds’ office manager, Candice Wallace, was sent to City Hall on Oct. 16. It reiterated Bounds’ point about not being a candidate, and questioned the city clerk’s interpretations, citing various state statutes.
Harris responded with more excerpts from city code, including a section that says it’s up to the City Council to decide whether irregularities were meaningful enough to warrant another election. She wrote that she was happy Bounds and Wallace were asking “other state agencies” to check into the situation, as “they will call and question the sequence of events.”
One discrepancy that has arisen is the difference between the 2003 disqualification of a write-in candidate, and the 2002 election where a write-in, who could not be a candidate, received the most votes for school board and was seated.
The newspaper and Wallace have questioned how the council in 2002 was able to seat Chris Maggio, an undeclared write-in who received 43 votes, just 10 percent, but more than anyone else.
Ironically, Maggio had tried to declare for the seat and be on the ballot, but was not a registered voter at the time he tried to declare, Harris said. She registered him but said he could not be a candidate on the ballot. He also could not run a write-in campaign, but enough people voted for him to put him on top.
When the matter came before the council during last year’s certification meeting, Harris explained that Maggio was registered with the state by Sept. 19 and eligible to be on the school board.
“Although Mr. Maggio did not qualify as a candidate, he is qualified to serve as a school board member and I recommend that Mr. Maggio be declared the winner of the 1-year school board seat,” she wrote in an Oct. 2, 2002 memo. The council concurred and certified Maggio as the winner.
Looking back, Harris said “winner” was a “poor choice of words,” she said this week. “He was basically appointed.”
She continued, “Maggio was not a qualified candidate, but could serve because he was a qualified voter by election day.”
The difference with 2003, Harris said, is that the top vote-getter, Cline, was declared an unqualified candidate by the Council at certification, and there is no provision in city code to offer the seat to the next highest vote getter.
At the Oct. 16 council meeting, Bounds asked the city to wait for an opinion from the state attorney general’s office. If it gets an opinion before the mayor makes his appointment, “then I will let it drop,” Bounds said.
Representatives of the APOC, Division of Elections, and the Department of Community and Economic Development have deferred the matter to what’s in city code.
Gina Shirey-Potts, local government specialist with DCED, said Wednesday that she had spoken recently with Wallace and Harris.
Prefacing her remarks that she is not an attorney, and that her opinion is not that of the state or the attorney general’s office, Shirey-Potts said that she agreed with the council’s decisions to disqualify Cline for not submitting her paperwork, and then declaring the seat vacant.
“Skagway code says if (highest vote getter) failed to qualify, then the seat can be declared vacant,” Shirey-Potts said.
She did not know if the attorney general’s office would enter the debate, but if it did, her department would be consulted.
Mayor Tim Bourcy was out of town for the certification meeting, but was back here this week, and said he would like to appoint a woman to the council.
He said he was considering Cline, but he spoke to her on Wednesday and she declined.
Harris said that any qualified registered voter of the city could be appointed to the seat.

City sends feds $80,088 check to clear Clinic’s name
Former administrator disputes figures

By JEFF BRADY
In order to restore the Skagway clinic’s eligibility for federal grants, the city has written a check for more than $80,000 to the federal government to pay back “unallowable” grant expenditures of the former Skagway Medical Corporation.
The check was approved by the Finance Committee and the City Council in votes last week. The non-profit corporation was dissolved earlier this year, and the city took over operation of the clinic.
“We had no choice (to pay),” said Finance chair J. Frey, in order for the clinic to move on.
The check request came after a “change of heart” from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, said City Manager Bob Ward. In previous discussions, the department wanted the city to retrieve the money in order to clear the clinic’s name.
Now, HRSA will accept a check, and once it is received, the clinic will be “free and clear to apply for additional grant funds.” This process involved the city changing the federal employee identification By JEFF BRADY
In order to restore the Skagway clinic’s eligibility for federal grants, the city has written a check for more than $80,000 to the federal government to pay back “unallowable” grant expenditures of the former Skagway Medical Corporation.
The check was approved by the Finance Committee and the City Council in votes last week. The non-profit corporation was dissolved earlier this year, and the city took over operation of the clinic.
“We had no choice (to pay),” said Finance chair J. Frey, in order for the clinic to move on.
The check request came after a “change of heart” from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, said City Manager Bob Ward. In previous discussions, the department wanted the city to retrieve the money in order to clear the clinic’s name.
Now, HRSA will accept a check, and once it is received, the clinic will be “free and clear to apply for additional grant funds.” This process involved the city changing the federal employee identification number for the clinic to avoid confusion, Ward added.
The city “still has to work with (the federal department) to recover the money,” Ward told the council.
In an Oct. 2 letter to the city, Lawrence Poole, the director of the Division of Grants Management Operations for HRSA, said it had reviewed documentation provided by the clinic and “have determined that the following questioned costs are unallowable and should be returned to HRSA: additional salary paid to (former clinic administrator) Cindie Law, $75,000; additional salary paid to (another employee) Verlene Bush, $2,500; ATM cash withdrawls, $1,643; debit card purchases, $945. Total, $80,088.”
The letter said Law and Bush received the money, which was charged to a HRSA Rural Health Network Grant, in addition to their regular salaries. It referenced this from an Office of Management and Budget circular dealing with non-profits: “costs of compensation are allowable to the extent that total compensation to individual employees is reasonable for services rendered and conforms to the established policy of the organization (and) it is consistently applied.” In order to be allowable, they must be “allocable to a particular cost objective and be adequately documented.”
HRSA said documentation provided by SMC was not sufficient to substantiate the expenditures, and after a second request, SMC said it had no further information to provide.
Law, who now works in Juneau, says the documentation is in Skagway. She maintains that she received approval to be paid a separate grant-writing salary under the grant, and that Bush was paid from the grant for billing services for the clinic.
The three-year $537,786 HRSA grant was awarded in 1999. It was about to be returned for not being used when Law, during her time as director in 2002, was sent to Washington, D.C. to retrieve it. She listed it as one of her accomplishments after resigning for health reasons a year ago.
The questioned expenditures first came up last February as the city initiated a transfer of clinic management to Bartlett Regional Hospital. At the time, Law said she reported her grant work as separate from her administrator duties, never hid it, and was paid two salaries.
Her attorney then wrote a letter to the city and the newspaper which stated: “All payments which were made to Cindie Law for work she performed both as clinic administrator and on the Rural Health Network Grant were approved by the clinic board, the clinic’s attorney, and by the network grant board. The payment procedures were also approved by the appropriate representative of the granting agency.”
Reached this week in Juneau, Law said she never wanted to be the separate grant administrator, but that’s the way the original grant was set up. And when she returned from D.C., the former SMC board, under the direction of Frank Wasmer, told her that she was hired to write grants and had to accept two salaries.
When told of the $75,000 figure in the recent HRSA letter, Law said she was paid “not even close” to that amount before she left the clinic. They tried to pay her for a year up front, but she balked, saying “What if I leave?” she recalled, and they compromised on six months up front, and then monthly payments. The network grant board was chaired by Ward, she added, and approved of all checks.
“Nothing was done without D.C., the grant board, and the clinic board’s approval,” Law said. “We did what we were told to do.... It’s all documented.”
HRSA’s letter also said SMC’s credit card statements showed charges that “appeared to be personal in nature,” which are unallowable. A year ago, the former clinic board traced credit card charges to a web site where airline tickets for Wasmer’s family were purchased on the clinic’s computer. Wasmer said the clinic’s credit card number was sent by mistake, and he later paid the clinic back.

Ferry travelers relax on the solarium deck and admire the cruise ships in the harbor as a ferry departs Skagway this summer. JB

Skagway still prefers ferries over road
New Juneau Access poll shows little change

Despite a proliferation of “Build the Road” bumper stickers showing up on cars in Skagway in recent weeks, a majority of local residents still support improved ferry service, according to a poll conducted last summer for the updated Juneau Access Environmental Impact Statement.
The McDowell Group polled 104 households in Skagway in July-August and found that, when asked the simple question, “What single transportation improvement, if any, would you choose to enhance transportation between Juneau, Haines and Skagway?”, 60 percent supported improved ferry service,
35 percent supported a road to Juneau, four percent said no improvements are needed, two percent preferred improved air service, and one percent didn’t know or refused to answer.
The report noted that since 1994, support here for improved ferry service had increased from 50 to 60 percent, and support for a road had decreased from 40 to 35 percent.
But when the question was broken down into the four alternatives under consideration for improving surface transportation in the Juneau Access EIS, Skagway residents answered: 53 percent for improved ferry service, 38 percent for an east Lynn Canal road, and three percent each for a west Lynn Canal road, no improvements and don’t know/no response.
Over in Haines, where 150 households were surveyed, when asked simply what transportation improvement they preferred, 67 percent wanted improved ferry service and 29 percent favored a road to Juneau. Support for better ferry service had increased slightly since 1994, and support for a road had decreased slightly.
However, when Haines households were given the choice of alternatives, the same 53 percent as Skagway supported the improved ferry service alternative, while 33 percent favored a west Lynn Canal road, nine percent an east Lynn Canal road, four percent didn’t know/refused, and one percent wanted no improvements.
When asked the same question, a slight majority of Juneau households wanted some road alternative. It was a dead heat between 36 percent favoring an east Lynn Canal road and 36 percent for improved ferry improved ferry service. Another 16 percent wanted a west Lynn Canal road, seven percent didn’t know/refused, and four percent favored no improvements.
Support in Juneau for the east Lynn Canal road, the preferred alternative in the draft EIS, had increased since 1994 from 27 to 36 percent, while support for the west route and better ferry service had declined by four and six percentage points respectively. In Juneau, 365 households were surveyed.
The survey also was conducted among 100 Whitehorse households, but they were asked mainly to explain how their travel patterns would change with a road to Juneau versus improved ferry service. More than 70 percent in all four communities said their frequency of trips would increase with better transportation improvements, with even more trips by road. And Skagway and Haines residents, more than 80 percent of them, told pollsters that keeping the existing Klondike and Haines Highways open year-round was important to them.If the road is built,most Skagway residents oppose it coming in by Lower Dewey Lake.
The phone surveys were conducted randomly, and margin of error varies from 1-2 percent when responses land in the 1 or 99 percent level, and up to 10 percent when they land closer to the 50 percent range, depending on the community.
The survey also breaks down reasons people listed for their answers, and all 63 pages can be found on the State Department of Transportation’s Juneau Access website: www.dot.state.ak.us/stwdplng/projectinfo/ser/juneau_access

Pullen Creek will be sampled in spring
By JEFF BRADY
Pullen Creek is undergoing an environmental assessment to determine if it should remain on the state’s impaired water body list.
Members of the Taiya Inlet Watershed Council on Oct. 15 listened to a presentation by Cathy Needham from the Prince of Wales Tribal Environmental Consortium. She has been hired by the Skagway Tribal Council through a Alaska Clean Water Action grant to perform an environmental assessment of the salmon-rearing creek that runs through downtown Skagway.
The creek last year landed on the state’s 303(d) list provided to the federal government of impaired or threatened streams, because of its proximity to the railroad tracks where lead, zinc, and asbestos were once hauled. The creek also was listed at risk for potential hydrocarbon contamination, since traces have shown up in groundwater monitoring in Skagway in the past.
Needham said testing was done on the Ore Terminal Basin during the lead cleanup throughout town in 1989. At that time, government agencies concluded that disturbing the sediment in the basin would be the worst thing to do, and concentrated its cleanup on the ground around the Ore Terminal, along the railroad tracks, in the rail yard, and along State Street, where ore was trucked after the railroad quit hauling the concentrates. White Pass paid for the $6 million cleanup and the state also tabbed the former owners of the Cyprus Anvil lead-zinc mine in the Yukon for a portion of the bill.
Pullen Creek was not touched during the cleanup, but the state Department of Environmental Conservation was concerned enough about it to add the creek to the impaired list.
Needham said the state did so without collecting any data, and the local Tribal Council initiated the process to see if the creek was truly impaired and if a cleanup was necessary. This coincided with the startup of the local Watershed Council, which is a partner in the survey.
During her presentation, Needham said the two main objectives of the grant are: 1) Determine if a federal Total Maximum Daily Limit (TMDL) needs to be completed for Pullen Creek for metal contamination, or if the creek can be removed from the impaired water list; and 2) Develop an environmental assessment document for future recommendations.
Because the grant funding of $34,189 for the assessment wasn’t secured until recently, it was too late to line up a lab, get approval for quality control of its testing plan from DEC, and survey the creek this fall, Needham explained.
She plans to return to Skagway in February or early March to take creek samples, and then do a follow-up sampling in early May. The creek will be sampled in five locations: below Pullen Pond, below the confluences of its two main tributaries, at the Jerry Myers Fish Hatchery, and at the creek’s headwaters at the south end of the rail yard.
She will collect water and sediment samples for heavy metals, hydrocarbons and suspended sediments; take the water’s temperature, dissolved oxygens, conductivity, and pH; and also note its discharge and flow.
The samples will be sent to an accredited tribal lab in Washington to satisfy minority hire provisions in the grant. Needham said the lab is well-respected throughout Southeast Alaska, and STC President Lance Twitchell said he has complete faith in Needham’s and POWTEC’s work.
Included in the environmental assessment will be historical data on the fish habitat, before and after the hatchery. She visited the hatchery last week and measured coho fry with manager Rex Kilburn, who is on the Watershed Council. Member John McDermott also recommended use of recent bird surveys,
and National Park Service geologist Denny Capps said the stream’s flow history is also important.
Amber Bethe, the Watershed Council’s new coordinator, said AP&T and White Pass want to be involved, and she hopes to set up a meeting with industry representatives before Christmas.
The sampling data and the assessment report are due to be completed before the grant runs out on June 30, 2004. Assistance by the Tribal Council and Watershed Council will qualify for a $23,200 local match. Once her report is completed, Needham will make a presentation of its findings to the public.
Regardless of the results, Watershed Council members said they would like to organize annual cleanups of litter in the creek, hold workshops, and produce a brochure for property owners.
The TIWC, which last summer secured startup funding from the Southeast Conference, had been operating with an interim board co-chaired by Twitchell and Meg Hahr. At last week’s meeting, nine people were nominated for six board seats: Twitchell, Hahr, Rex Kilburn, Jesse Naiman, Stuart Brown, John McDemott, Mike Klensch, Stephen Dobert, and Dimitra Lavrakas. Nominations remained open through Oct. 24, said Bethe, and the board will be elected at its November meeting.

OTHER STORIES

• SPORTS: Wrestling and volleyball roundup

• STUDENT DEBATE: Republicans vs. Democrats

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